Kelkoo and the hListing microformat


 

Remember what microformats are? In short, an easy way to build a semantic web with the current HTML / CSS standards. The hListing microformat – still a proposal at this point – is a very useful one for the shopping ecosystem. As explained on microformats.org:

Individuals and professionals are increasingly publishing their offerings online: whether as items for sale or rent (cars, homes, apartments), services for hire (music lessons, dog walker, plumber), openings (jobs, volunteers, extra spot in a book club) or personals (people looking for dates, companions, roommates). The goal of publishing (and promoting) these listings online is to seek out interested parties, often within a limited time period. While descriptions of products and services are common on the Web, particularly on e-commerce sites, we are proposing an hListing microformat for sharing, searching, and syndicating the information that helps match up buyers and sellers. This proposal follows the common practices of trading sites such as Craigslist, eBay and newspaper classifieds.

Kelkoo with its new site introduced the support of hListing microformat to represent offers from merchants. This is part of a broader initiative at Yahoo! to support the structured web and microformats (previously introduced in Yahoo Tech, Yahoo Local, Flickr…).

The support of hListing can be considered as a geeky feature, as the adoption of this microformat is pretty slow and doesn’t bring a lot of benefits (yet). But I believe we have to show the path: broader adoption of hListing among merchants and comparison engines could mean easier ways to discover and manage offers. Imagine:

  • Auto-discovery of offers on merchant websites is made trivial by the adoption of hListing by merchants. Comparison engines can rely on easier and more reliable crawler technologies to retrieve offers. At some point, if crawling is made easy, merchants could even stop pushing feeds to comparison engines but a list of URLs or simply their domain name.
  • Social shopping: bookmarking of listing is now trivial, as structured data can be easily extracted from browsed page. No more complex bookmarking tools that ask the end user to identify the product name, the image…
  • We can imagine browser extension (like Operator plugin for Firefox) to let users bookmark offers from various sites, and call comparison engines to compare prices for similar offers.